Essay: Angling for the Light

Dec 25, 2020

With all their leaves gone, I can see the bare branches of the oaks and maples in my neighborhood.  Walking these streets daily, I know the trees by heart, how old they are, what colors they turn in the fall.

Now it is winter and I stare into the dark branches which reach upward in a random tangle of twigs.  But I know that it’s not random at all.  Each branch has very deliberately found its way around the others—angling for the light that its leaves need to make food.

And I wonder if I and my fellow human beings are doing the same?  Are we all struggling to find a path to that place in the sun that will nourish our growth?  I think we are.

My daily struggles can seem chaotic and futile in the moment, but if I look back over my life, I see that I’ve always been trying to find a patch of light where I could blossom.  Even the wrong turns, the terrible losses, were somehow necessary—although I couldn’t see it at the time.

Winter is cold and dark, but the trees are alive, already preparing for the next season of warmth and renewal.  I want to believe I am preparing too.